Homer: The Odyssey

24. Book XXIV

The Ithacans bury the wooers, and sitting in council resolve on revenge. And coming near the house of Laertes, are met by Odysseus, and Laertes with Telemachus and servants, the whole number twelve, and are overcome, and submit.

Now Cyllenian Hermes called forth from the halls the souls of the wooers, and he held in his hand his wand that is fair and golden, wherewith he lulls the eyes of men, of whomso he will, while others again he even wakens out of sleep. Herewith he roused and led the souls who followed gibbering. And even as bats flit gibbering in the secret place of a wondrous cave, when one has fallen down from the cluster on the rock, where they cling each to each up aloft, even so the souls gibbered as they fared together, and Hermes, the helper, led them down the dank ways. Past the streams of Oceanus and the White Rock, past the gates of the Sun they sped and the land of dreams, and soon they came to the mead of asphodel, where dwell the souls, the phantoms of men outworn. There they found the soul of Achilles son of Peleus, and the souls of Patroclus, and of noble Antilochus, and of Aias, who in face and form was goodliest of all the Danaans after the noble son of Peleus.

So these were flocking round Achilles, and the spirit of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, drew nigh sorrowful; and about him were gathered all the other shades, as many as perished with him in the house of Aegisthus, and met their doom. Now the soul of the son of Peleus spake to him first, saying:

'Son of Atreus, verily we deemed that thou above all other heroes wast evermore dear to Zeus, whose joy is in the thunder, seeing that thou wast lord over warriors, many and mighty men, in the land of the Trojans where we Achaeans suffered affliction. But lo, thee too was deadly doom to visit early, {*} the doom that none avoids of all men born. Ah, would that in the fulness of thy princely honour, thou hadst met death and fate in the land of the Trojans! So would all the Achaean host have builded thee a barrow, yea and for thy son thou wouldst have won great glory in the aftertime. But now it has been decreed for thee to perish by a most pitiful death.'

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